Hyderabad is also known as the Coy of Pearls, and is one of the most developed city in the country. It is the capital city of the Indian state Andhra Pradesh. Hyderabad has today become the emerging Information Technology (or IT) and Biotechnology hub of India. It is known worldwide for its rich history, culture and architecture representing its unique characteristic of a meeting point for the North and South India Hyderabad is considered to be the gateway of southern India, and has always been a place where Hindus and Muslims have co-existed peacefully for centuries.
One of the largest and wealthiest of India’s former princely states, Hyderabad built its fortune on the trade of pearls, gold, steel, fabric and, above all, diamonds, which some believe remain hidden beneath the foundations of Golconda Fort, precursor to the city some 10km (61⁄4 miles) away. Once the most famous diamond mining area in the world, Golconda was where the 108-carat Koh-i-Noor diamond (not to mention the Orloff, Regent, and Hope diamonds) was excavated. It was in fact Golconda’s legendary wealth that attracted the attention of the voracious Mughal emperor Aurangzeb, and with the aid of an inside agent he captured the fortress in 1678. Aurangzeb’s invasion marked the temporary decline of the city, but when the Mughal empire began to fade, the enterprising local viceroy, Asaf Jah I, promptly proclaimed himself Nizam (ruler) and established independent rule over the Deccan state. Under the notoriously opulent Nizams of the Asaf Jahi dynasty, their power cemented by an alliance forged in 1798 with the British East India Company, Hyderabad again became a major influence, and even contributed to the British military campaigns against the recalcitrant Tipu Sultan of Mysore.
WHAT TO SEE & DO
To see Hyderabad in a day, first drive to Qutb Shahi Tombs, where Hyderabad’s dynastic rulers are buried. Standing at the center of its own garden, Sultan Muhammed Quli Qutb Shah’s tomb is considered the most impressive. Built around the same time as his tomb, the mortuary bath (Hamaam)—where the dead were washed before being laid to rest—lies at the center of the enclosure. From here, consider walking to Golconda Fort; have your driver show you the route, which is about 2km (11⁄4 miles) and takes you through lively villages where you may even be invited in for a cup of chai and a chat. Allow at least an hour to explore the ruins of the historic citadel, arranging for your driver to pick you up at the entrance. Next, head to Charminar, a four-sided archway with soaring minarets. It was laid out by Mohammad Quli Qutb Shahi as the centerpiece of a great new city when Golconda’s disease epidemics forced him to move his seat to the banks of the Musi River. Explore the Old City quarter on foot, heading westward into Laad Bazaar , where double-story houses with tiny wooden shutters line narrow lanes. Wandering through these perpetually congested narrow lanes, you’ll encounter numerous burkha-wearing women scanning the stalls for bargains, and you’re likely to score a deal on anything from old saris, pearls, bidri (surface ornamentation) work, and silver and gold jewelry, to paper kites, henna, turmeric, and cheap china. Lac bangles, made from shellac encrusted with shiny, colorful stones, are a Hyderabadi specialty that you’ll find in huge quantities here. It’s also where the people of Hyderabad go to buy traditional bridal wear, or Khopdia Joda, consisting of a kurta pajama, choli, and ghunghat. When you’ve had your fill of the Old City, the interiors of Salar Jung Museum are a cool diversion, filled with an unprecedented assortment of kitschy collectibles and works of art (see below). Also interesting for antiques-lovers is Purani Haveli, near the Salar Jung Museum, where several Nizams were born and lived. When Nawab Mir Mehboob Ali Khan, the sixth Nizam, lived here, he had a 73m-long (240-ft.) wooden chamber built with 150 huge cupboards (probably the world’s largest walk-in closet), to stock his extensive collection of fine clothing and shoes (also called Nizam Jubilee Pavilion; daily 10am–6pm; Rs 40/90¢). India’s second-largest mosque, Mecca Masjid (Kishan Prasad Rd., near Charminar), is said to have been built with a few bricks brought from Mecca, and attracts thousands of worshippers during Namaaz, Friday prayers. It’s off-limits to non-Muslims during prayers, but visitors are welcome at other times. Leave your shoes with an attendant before making your way through a long room that houses the tombs of the Nizams of the Asaf Jahi dynasty. Non-Muslims cannot enter the prayer hall but can view proceedings through a screen. In Gulzar Hauz is Jami Masjid, Hyderabad’s oldest functioning mosque, dating back to 1597. Round off the day by watching the sun set over Cyberabad from white-marble Birla Mandir (Kalabahad Hill; daily 6am–noon and 3–9pm; free admission). Commissioned by the Birlas, India’s foremost industrial magnates, the main temple is dedicated to Lord Venkateshwara, and is pleasantly free of greedy “guides” and the like.
Hyderabad is situated at an altitude of 500 metres and is almost in the middle of India.
Hyderabad is extremely hot in summer with temperatures around 40°C and in the winter months, it is usually mild and pleasant are cool and breezy.
The city of Hyderabad had its humble beginning in a mud fortress built by the Kakatiyas of Warangal in the 11th century AD on a hill called Golconda. In the 14th century, the Golconda went to the Bahamani kings from 1518 to 1687, the Qutub Shahi kings ruled Golconda. Muhammed Quli Qutub Shah was the founder of the present day Hyderabad. Golconda's overcrowding and water shortage forced the king of lay the foundations of a new city that he named as Bhagyanagar after his Hindu courtesan, Bhagmati. The name was changed to Hyderabad when she became his wife and changed her name to Hider Mahal.
The glorious remains of this once impregnable fort sprawls over a hill side about 1000 feet above the surrounding countryside. The forts name is derived from the Telugu word “Golla Konda” meaning “Shepherd’s Hill”. Originally, it was a mud fort built by the Kakatiya kings of Warangal in 1143. The Qutub Shah dynasty held it from 1518 to 1687 and the first three Qutub Shahi kings rebuilt Golconda over a span of 62 years.
The prosperous city was famous for its diamonds and hand painted textiles. Attracted by the wealth and prosperity of Golconda, the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb conquered Golconda after an eight month siege. The grandeur of this mammoth fort can be experienced from the top of the citadel. Within the fort are an armoury, palaces, the store, courtyards, fountains, mosque, public and private meeting halls and temple. The fort is noted for its magnificent acoustics, the structural grandeur of its palaces, factories and ingenious water supply system. A sound and light show is held here in the evenings.
Qutub Shahi Tombs
The graceful group of Qutub Shahi tombs, about 1km north of Golconda Fort’s Banjara Darwaja, were built by the Qutub Shahi dynasty.
Ramoji Film City
Ramoji Film City is the largest, most comprehensive and professionally planned film production centre of the world. It is located near Hayathnagar on the Hyderabad Vijayawada Highway, 25km from Hyderabad. The film city sprawling over an area of about 2000 acres was conceived and developed as a ‘one stop shop’ for a filmmaker. It is said to have better facilities than the best studios of Hollywood.
It also offers a variety of well conducted tours that transports a visitor into a virtual dreamland. The tourist are received at the main gate on the Vijayawada highway and taken to ‘Eureka’, inside the film city from where all the tours commence. Eureka, the fun place, is an architectural marvel amidst the glamour land. It is an excellent stop for entertainment, food and shopping.
The crafts village at Madhapur nestles amidst beautiful rocky formations by the hillside with natural slopes and wild vegetation. It was set-up to preserve the dying art forms as well as to bring together the crafts persons and artists from every sphere. Annual festivals of arts and crafts are held in March. Cultural activities are organised during Dussehra festival (October – November) and Sankrant Sandadi (January).
Osmansagar (Gandipet) (21km)
The charming lake covering an area of 46sq km was built by Mir Osman Ali Khan in 1920, by barricading the water of Musi River. Boating facilities are available here.
This famous shrine of Lord Balaji Venkateswara is located at Chilkur near Himayatsagar at Gandipet. It is said to be over five hundred year old and is built in Kakatiyan style. No ‘hundi’ / cash offerings are accepted here.
Sanghi Temple (25km)
The majestic temple complex dedicated to Lord Venkateswara is a favourite gateway point for the tourists visiting Ramoji Film City.
The Hindu pilgrim centre is known for Ramalingeswara and Lakshminarasimha shrines. According to mythological legends, Lord Rama came here during his exile and was captivated by its natural beauty.
Yadagiri Gutta (68km)
It is famous for the shrine of Sri Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy perched atop a hillock. The presiding deity is believed to cure the incurable diseases of the devotees. Yadagiri Gutta is 85km from Warangal.
The Hi Tec City
The Hi-tec or the “Hyderabad Information Technology Engineering consultancy” City is a symbol of Hyderabad’s leadership in the field of Information Technology (IT) in the country. It is located at Madhapur on the Outskirts of Hyderabad and is a fully integrated, ultramodern techno township that provides infrastructural facilities like office space, production areas, communication facilities, shopping centre, hotel, convention centre, recreational zones and club houses.
This historic site and famous Christian pilgrim centre is named after ‘Methuku’, which means a particle of cooked rice. Originally, it was an important Buddhist site, but the town is now well known for its magnificent cathedral.
It is the single largest diocese in Asia and second largest in the world after the Vatican. The church was built by Rev. Charles Posnett in gratitude for the end of a famine that lasted for three years. Its construction started in 1914 and was opened on 25th December 1924. The imposing structure in Neo-gothic style is 173 feet high, while the length and width are 200ft and 100ft respectively. The tiles used here were brought from Italy, while the sound proof roof of the church is built of sponge material. The church is also noted for its stained glass windows depicting various Biblical and Christmas celebration scenes. It can accommodate about 5000 people at a time.
It was originally built in typical Hindu style during the reign of the Kakatiyas and was later constructed by the Qutub Shahis in Muslim architecture. The fort has wide ramparts with several natural bastions carved out of the boulders and rocks on the hillock. The huge Mubarak Mahal within is worth a visit.
Pocharam Wildlife Sanctuary
It covers an area of 130 sq km about 15km from Medak. The low hills and small water pools attract large flocks of migratory birds. Animals seen here are panther, sloth bear, wild boar, cheetal, nilgai, hyena etc. Best season to visit is from October – May. The sanctuary is 120 km from Hyderabad.
Nehru Zoological Park
Sprawling across 300 lush green acres, the Nehru Zoological Park is the biggest zoo in India over 250 species, and about 2450 different kinds of animals and birds kept in the natural environment. The Lion Safari Park, the first in Asia, the Natural History Museum, the Pre-historical Animals Park, Nocturnal Birds, Nocturnal Birds, and a Children's Park with a train ride are other impressive sights.
Hussain Sagar Lake
Hussainshah Wali constructed the Hussain Sagar Lake, which links the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad, during the reign of Ibrahim Qutub Shah, in 1562. There are 33 statues of historical personage of the Andhra Desha placed along the bund of the lake. Another major attraction of the Hussain Sagar Lake is the installation of an 18-metre high, 350-ton monolithic statue of Lord Buddha on the rock of Gibraltor in the middle of the lake.
Charminar is a symbolic monument with its four imposing minarets, each 54m high, well decorated with lotus buds and petals. It also houses a mosque. Muhammed Quil Qutub Shah built the Charminar in 1591 to commemorate the cessation of plague in the city.
Sri Venkateshwara Temple
Si Venkateshwara Temple, popularly known as the 'Brila Mandir', is built ion 280ft. high Kala Pahad overlooking the picturesque. The Hussain Sagar Lake by the Hindustan Charity Trust is on a 13-acre plot. The temple was built with 2000 tons of white marble.
The magnificent architecture of this temple is a synthesis of the north and south Indian style. The main deity is 9.5ft high made of granite brought from Phirangipuram in Guntur District.
A stone's throw away from Charminar, one can see Mecca Masjid. Its foundation was laid by Sultan Muhammed Qutub Shah in 1614 and was completed by the Mughal Emperor, Aurungzeb in 1694. The mosque is said to have bricks from Mecca, which were placed on the top of the central arch, and hence, it is called the Mecca Masiid it is the biggest mosque in South India accommodating 10,000 persons for prayer at a time. In the chamber adjoining the Mecca Masjid, are the tombs of the Asaf Jahi rulers.
Golconda Fort Sitting at an elevated height on the outskirts of Hyderabad, Golconda—seat of the Qutb Shahis—was once a magnificent citadel and center of the world diamond trade. The fort took 62 years to build, and when it fell to Aurangzeb in 1687, he tore the place apart looking for diamonds and gold. Left to the birds of prey that circle high above the once-daunting battlements, Golconda would have become a tranquil retreat were it not for its popularity with visitors, who noisily explore the ramparts of Hyderabad’s most illustrious attraction. That’s why it’s best if you visit it as soon as it opens, or around twilight (when it’s far cooler and the dimming evening sky sheds a mysterious aura over the stone ruins). Enclosing the graffiti-smeared remains of bazaars, homes, fields, barracks, armories, mosques, camel stables, Turkish baths, and water reservoirs, the battlements incorporate 87 bastions and extend some 5km (3 miles) in circumference. Four of the original eight gates are still in use; present-day visitors enter via the Bala Hissar gate—large teakwood doors with metal spikes designed to withstand charging elephants. Guides can assist by demonstrating the tremendous acoustics of the structure— a clap here is heard clearly when you are at the fort’s highest point, 1km (1⁄2 mile) away; this was once an invaluable security-cum-intercom system. The Royal Palace complex comprises buildings constructed by the Qutb Shahi kings during different periods. Most are decorated with floral designs, glazed tilework on the walls, and cut-plaster decorations indicative of the Qutb Shahi style. Sadly, where royalty once went about their daily lives, rats, bats, garbage, grime, and tourists have taken over. At the top of the fort is the Baradari, reached by three stone stairways. As you make your way up, look along the walls for the remains of limestone pipes once part of a sophisticated plumbing system that used Persian wheels to carry water up the hill, so that it could be piped in for bathing, flushing cistern systems, and keeping the palace cool. The climb to the top is worth it for the excellent views alone. The fort hosts an extremely popular sound-and-light show that recounts the history of Golconda using the illuminated ruins as a backdrop. There are performances in English each night; but be warned that power failures can disrupt the performance— and be sure to take insect repellent.
Salar Jung Museum
Salar Jung Museum Marketed as the world’s largest private collection of art, artifacts, and antiques, this eclectic assortment of more than 30,000 different exhibits was assembled by Salar Jung III, who served as prime minister (wazir) to the Nizam of Hyderabad. It’s a truly fascinating collection—particularly the textiles and fine art section, which includes a fine collection of Indian miniature paintings demonstrating the evolution of styles and the differences between Rajput, Deccan, Pahari, and Mughal paintings, though the displays are somewhat disorganized. One of the most valuable pieces must be a 9th-century edition of the Koran, written in beautiful Kufic script. The weaponry collection includes a diamond-encrusted sword used ceremonially by the Salar Jungs, as well as pieces used by Mughal emperors. There’s something to be said for the sheer profusion of design objects, ranging from boxes studded with precious gems and vessels blown from Indo-Persian glass to a chair made of solid ivory, a gift from Louis XV to Tipu Sultan. In one room, large crowds are drawn to a famous musical clock with a toy watchman who emerges from behind a door every hour in time to beat a melodious gong. Give yourself at least 90 minutes to explore.
The Makara Sankranti is celebrated for three days in the middle of January. The first day is Bhogi that is spent with gaiety. The second day is Sankranti when the sun enters the Makara Rasi (the zodiac sign of Capricorn). Traditionally, this period is considered an auspicious day. Many families arrange a doll show, invite their friends, and give alms to the poor. The third day is Kanuma. The community being agrarian, they acknowledge their gratitude by worshipping animals.
he day when Lord Ganesha or Vinayak was born (created) is celebrated as Vinayak Chaturthi. The day is celebrated with devotion and enthusiasm throughout the country. Every year, the largest Ganesha idol is installed at Khairatabad in Hyderabad, which is taller than thirty feet. On the 11th day of the celebration, processions converge at the Hussain Sagar Lake.
The Deccan Festival is generally held at the Qutub Shahi Tombs, Hyderabad on the second Friday, and Saturday of April every year. This festival brings the choicest talents from the field of music, dance and theatre. Ghazals, mushairas, qawwalis, classical dances and music also form an indispensable part of this festival. The festival reflects the love and interest of the Hyderabadis towards art and literature. The Deccan Festival essentially mirrors the glorious Qutub Shahi epoch.
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